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Greg Veis: You Tube Hunter Explores the Man Crush

Perhaps the strangest--and certainly the most unwelcome--development of this year's Super Bowl was the reliance on homophobia to move product. Much has already been written on the topic, so I won't cover old ground here, but all the corporate phobing sparked a discussion of the "man-crush" around Hunter HQ. Specifically, who is it acceptable to harbor one for? Jon Stewart seemed to be the #1 answer, with Kris Kristofferson a close two. (That's not a joke. Dude's a serious badass. Plus, he wrote this song and has excellent hair.)

For the uninitiated, a man-crush (n.) occurs, according to UrbanDictionary.com, which has clearly supplanted Merriam Webster as the language officiator par excellence, "when a straight man has a 'crush' on another man, not sexual but kind of idolizing him." Is that definition grammatically correct? Absolutely not. But the idea's there. Anyway, although it's dangerous to select a man-crush who isn't terribly well-known since it implies time idly spent daydreaming about the subject (which I haven't!), I'll just out and say it: Damon Albarn is my #1. Yes, he's best known as the lead singer of Blur, who I don't even like that much, but he's so much more. So. Much. More.

He wrote one of the best breakup songs of the last 10 years, he has pushed himself from a certain Britpop fade-out to a multi-dimensional and fully adult musical force, and most in line with this column's purposes, he brainchilded Gorillaz, the best animated rock band in the history of history. (And, uh, not to get all MySpace-y on you, he's got an inimitable coolness and I like the way he looks, but such that it's "not sexual but kind of idolizing." It's possible, and not nearly as fine a distinction as you might think. Really.) (I feel weird.) Okay, enough of that. In honor of Mr. Albarn, and in protest of the Super Bowl's unfortunate homophobic streak, a celebration of the Gorillaz, starting with the "19-2000" video. Like everything Gorillaz, it's animated and there are high jinks:

Whereas the "19-2000" video is straight titillation, this one, for the Grammy Award-winning "Feel Good Inc.," is laced with an undercurrent of menace. The human face in the middle of the cartoon suggests a certain, perhaps NSA-inspired, overlord quality. Am I being paranoid? Check this:  

Two more videos for you, both live. The "Clint Eastwood" one is from their first (of two) tours, and the graphics created by Jamie Hewlett are truly mind-blowing. With the possible exception of The Polyphonic Spree,  there isn't a more imaginative live act in music right now. (Sorry Flaming Lips...excess does not equal inspiration, which, coincidentally, was what my fortune cookie said last night. Between the sheets.)

Clint Eastwood (sorry unable to embed)

This last clip, a live version of "O Green World" from their second (of two) tours, is also wonderful, although please note the difference in stage set-up this go-around. More emphasis on the musicians, and the cartoon aspect focuses more on story-telling than instrument-playing.  

As you're probably aware, there's a lot more Gorillaz on YouTube if you're interested, and the material is certainly worth frittering away a lunch hour on. But I'd like to hear from you, too. Any man-crushes out there? Ladies, any fem-crushes? And so I'm not being hetero-normative: gay men, do you have fem-crushes? Lesbians, man-crushes? Can YouTube clips enhance your case? If so, hit the comments section hard, panda bears. Only through open, same-sex-crush discussion can we combat the damage done by Super Bowl advertisers. 92 million watched the game. About 92 people read this column. Even the longest journey starts with a first step. Or something.

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New AI-Driven Music System Analyzes Tracks for Perfect Playlists
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Whether you're planning a bachelorette party or recovering from a breakup, a well-curated playlist makes all the difference. If you don't have time to pick the perfect songs manually, services that use the AI-driven system Sonic Style may be able to figure out exactly what you have in mind based on your request.

According to Fast Company, Sonic Style is the new music-categorizing service from the media and entertainment data provider Gracenote. There are plenty of music algorithms out there already, but Sonic Style works a little differently. Rather than listing the entire discography of a certain artist under a single genre, the AI analyzes individual tracks. It considers factors like the artist's typical genre and the era the song was recorded in, as well as qualities it can only learn through listening, like tempo and mood. Based on nearly 450 descriptors, it creates a super-accurate "style profile" of the track that makes it easier for listeners to find it when searching for the perfect song to fit an occasion.

Playlists that use data from Sonic Style feel like they were made by a person with a deep knowledge of music rather than a machine. That's thanks to the system's advanced neural network. It also recognizes artists that don't fit neatly into one genre, or that have evolved into a completely different music style over their careers. Any service—including music-streaming platforms and voice-activated assistants—that uses Gracenote's data will be able to take advantage of the new technology.

With AI at your disposal, all you have to do as the listener is decide on a style of music. Here are some ideas to get you started if you want a playlist for productivity.

[h/t Fast Company]

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